Are you really happy?


 The Bucket List Boomers

 When a person loses such a good friend as my wife Trisha and I did last week, it makes you stop and re-examine your own life. That’s a good thing. At any time of life, but especially as a senior, its beneficial to assess where you are and make the necessary changes. Here is a chart I created to make my own assessment:

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Alright, it’s a funny chart, but it does have some validity. As one ages, and/or retires, it becomes very easy to fall in to ruts, misdirect energies, and even disregard  passions. While it’s often complicated at this time of life, given family and other responsibilities, Trisha and I have formalized the process planning and pursuing our personal bucket lists. I guess you could call us “The Bucket List Boomers.” 

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On our lists we have a number of places in the U. S. and the rest of the world we would like to visit. We also have a number of “crazy” activities such as paragliding off a mountain in Brazil, and more free base jumps as the one we did in Auckland, New Zealand last year. But we also have other interesting activities. We have a couple of great charities we love and set personal goals for our participation. I’ve also made a list of all of my childhood heroes that are still living and have been actively trying to communicate with them in the hope of meeting them in person. I’ve already met and/or communicated with a few and its been great fun.

Other personal items on my list includes becoming more proficient on my guitar, and possibly learning another language such as Italian. I use the term “another language” loosely because I’m not exactly fluent in Spanish, but can make it work when in Mexico. 

A bucket list can be whatever you want it to be. Such a list is beneficial because it helps you focus your time and energies in a productive way, and Trisha and I have found it to be very motivational. As C. S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream another dream.”

Let’s all become “Bucket List Boomers.”

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www.TheBestofOurLives.com

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I’m in a hurry to get things done

Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die

But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

                                                                             Alabama, I’m in a Hurry

Are you in a hurry? Are you doing the things you really want to do?

One of the joys or retired life is having more time to do the things you enjoy. Of course there are financial limits, individual responsibilities, and other limitations that impose restrictions on our choices. I, for example, am not writing this from my yacht in the Caribbean. The Swedish Bikini Team is no where in sight. I just put down my guitar and it did not sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan. But all is not lost.

The point of this brief blog is to suggest we do have a great deal of control over our time in retired life. I’m always surprised when I hear someone complain about having to visit a certain relative or having to do something they vehemently dislike. My advice: Don’t do it.

There was a time in my work life in which I did all the cooking for our family. I would visit the super market every day on my way home and as I walked in the door I would ask myself one question: What do I want to eat today? Very simple. I didn’t keep a lot of fresh foods in the refrigerator that I felt obligated to use up. Life was busy, but other than a couple of kids still living at home, there was no company to impress. The choice was mine. It was a very freeing and fulfilling experience.

Retired life is very much like that. What do you want to do? Who would you like to meet? Is there someone you would like to help? Is there a skill you would like to acquire? Write out and come up with your own questions. It’s sort of a dream “to do” list. I have two. One for the grander goals such as potential travel destinations and an everyday list that I keep on my iPhone. Sometimes it’s as simple as a reminder to listen to a song I want to hear again. That was the inspiration for this blog. Thanks Alabama. Well said.

                                    

                                 www.TheBestofOurLives.com

                                                                        

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday, it’s a natural time of reflection. Therefore, I pose the question:  “Are you really happy?”

I can hear a predictable response loud and clear: “What do you mean by happy?” Fair enough, let’s give this a try. Here are ten questions I’ve come up with that, if answered honestly, should give you a fairly complete assessment of your happiness:  

1. Do you have enough love in your life?  Do you have a relationship or relationships  in your life that provide you with a sense of caring and support? Do you have friends and neighbors that you can count on? Do you have social groups that provide you with a sense of belonging?

2. Do you maintain your mental and physical health and fitness? Do you care enough about yourself to eat properly and excise routinely? Do you schedule regular screening exams and follow your doctor’s advice?

3. Do you control the stress in your life? Do you understand where your stress comes from and take appropriate measures to control and reduce it? Have you created a stress-free living environment?

4. Have you secured your financial situation by living within your means? Do you have an overall financial plan? Do you have a budget and live within it?

5. Do you regularly help others? Do you give of yourself through time, money, or effort to better the lives of fellow human beings? 

6. Do you live up to the goals, values, and standards you have set for yourself? Do you live a life of honesty, spirituality, and pursue those things in life which are truly worthwhile?

7. Do you express yourself creatively? Do you strive to learn new things, expand and express yourself?  

8. Do you like yourself? Are you satisfied with the person you have become? What changes would you make?

9. Do you have enough humor in your life? Is it possible you take yourself and others too seriously? Do you seek out humor in your everyday activities and entertainment?

10. Are you having fun with your life? Has life simply become a chore or do you take the time for those activities you truly enjoy? 

That’s my list of questions. Perhaps you have your own questions and/or methods for determining personal happiness. Is there any real value in periodically making such an assessment? And what is so important about happiness anyway? Is that what life is really all about? 

One of my favorite class exercises as a university professor was to have my students take note of facial expressions of people they encountered in everyday settings. Based on their observations, I asked them to offer opinions as to each person’s happiness. It was an interesting way to begin a discussion on the concept of happiness, which in turn led to a discussion of values, goals, humanity, stress, etc. It was always an interesting and  valuable discussion. I hope this exercise was beneficial for you.

By the way, don’t miss my wife Trisha’s new blog: 

                                                                       

                      Thanksgiving Side Dishes « Trisha’s Dishes